Monday, September 23, 2013

Palace Malice Wins Again | 9/23/2013

Dogwood Stable's Palace Malice was the favorite going into this year's Jim Dandy Stakes at Saratoga on July 27, with good reason. The 3-year-old colt had won the Belmont Stakes on June 8 with supreme authority and, according to his connections, had only improved since that Grade 1 victory. With his entourage in tow, Palace Malice paraded around the paddock at Saratoga, slightly on the muscle with jockey Mike Smith in the saddle. Less than 15 minutes later, the pair was having their picture taken in the winner's circle.
Palace Malice delivered another major victory that afternoon, winning the 50th edition of the Jim Dandy by a length and in near-record time. (His 1:47.37 was the second fastest Jim Dandy in the history of the race).
"When you win a stakes race at Saratoga everyone knows it and appreciates it," he explains. "It's a racing crowd and they really understand the game. I love winning a race anywhere, but it's always special to win at Saratoga."
The Jim Dandy was named in honor of a 3-year-old colt that won the 1930 Travers Stakes at the incredible odds of 100-1, besting that year's Triple Crown winner Gallant Fox in the process. And for anyone who loves the history of racing, Palace Malice's win in the Jim Dandy was especially fitting. Another Aiken racing outfit - the famed Greentree Stable under the guidance of John Gaver Sr. - had won the very first running of the Jim Dandy in 1964 with a colt named Malicious. Rather similar names!

After the Jim Dandy win, the Travers (known as the Midsummer Derby) is the race on everyone's mind. With a $1 million purse, the 1 1/4 mile race attracts the top 3-year-olds in the country. Palace Malice will be there, as will Orb, winner of this year's Kentucky Derby. The Preakness winner Oxbow hurt his ankle in the Haskell Stakes on July 28 so it is highly unlikely that he will be entered, which is a shame. It's been 31 years since the winners of all three Triple Crown races have met in the Travers. It looked as if it might have happened again this year.

Another likely contender is Verrazano, who won the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 28, by an incredible 10 lengths. Verrazano, like Palace Malice, is trained by Todd Pletcher.

The Travers will be at Saratoga on August 24 and Cot Campbell is more than excited.

"Our cold was terribly impressive in winning the Jim Dandy, and he has come out of that race better than ever," he says. "My wife Anne and I went to the barn around 9:00 the night of the race and he was bouncing around his stall and I couldn't feed him peppermints fast enough.

"Mike Smith felt that Palace Malice finished up the race with something in reserve. When you watch the race, you see that Mike let up on him the last five or six jumps. He could have won by a wider margin than he did, had he needed to."

Campbell, who stays in Saratoga for the duration of the meet, sees Palace Malice each morning, and is in constant contact with the colt's trainer Todd Pletcher. Mike Smith calls California home and is currently riding a Del Mar, but he will fly back East to ride Palace Malice in the Travers.

"I've spoken with Mike on the phone and he is genuinely sold on the fact that our colt is becoming a superior racehorse," Campbell says. "While we have great respect for Verazano, I would not want to concede favoritism in the Travers at this point. As Mike says, 'Palace Malice will be the horse to beat.'"

Palace Malice's victory in the Jim Dandy pushed his lifetime earnings to $1,231,135 and he became Dogwood Stable's seventh millionaire. Summer Squall is on that list, as is his daughter Storm Song. Southjet, Wallenda, Smok'n Frolic and Limehouse are the others - pretty impressive company.

When asked how Palace Malice compares to some of Dogwood's other top runners, Campbell says: "It's difficult to compare horses of different eras, and it is a dangerous practice. Those that were so great 20 or 30 years ago automatically lose a little luster when compared with the current ones. Still, I think given Palace Malice's personality, his class, looks and running style, he is certainly right up there at the top of the list of Dogwood stars."

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Monday, September 16, 2013

American Driving Society Meeting | 9/16/2013

Drivers Come To Aiken

By Pam Gleason

This fall the American Driving Society is coming to Aiken, where it will be holding its annual meetings and convention from September 26 through 29. The board of directors' meetings, which will be at the Willcox and will address important society business, are slated to take up an hour on Thursday and most of the day on Friday. There is also a members' meeting on Saturday afternoon and a few more sessions on Sunday morning. 
The remainder of the time, meeting attendees will be able to take part in clinics, seminars and organized drives in and around Aiken. There will also be receptions, lunches, cocktail parties and the annual awards dinner on Saturday night at the Green Boundary Club. In addition, the United States Lipizzan Federation, which is an ADS breed partner, is co-locating their annual North American Lipizzan Symposium with the ADS meeting. Members of the USLF will have their own business meeting at Newberry Hall on Friday, and join the ADS activities for the rest of the weekend.

"We're hoping for around 150 to 200 people," says Susie Koos Acker who is the executive director of the ADS. According to Susie, quite a number of people are coming from far afield, many of them arriving with horses and carriages. People are shipping in from as far as Vermont and Florida, and everywhere in between. Susie herself will be traveling here on a two-day trip from Wisconsin, along with her Welsh ponies: a pair and a single. She is also bringing a marathon vehicle and a pleasure vehicle.

"I don't think anyone else is coming from quite as far away as I am," she says. "But our registration doesn't close until September 6, so you never know. People are really excited about the meetings being in Aiken. That's why so many people are coming from so far away. We're really trying to showcase Aiken as a tourist destination for carriage drivers."

The ADS moves its annual convention around the country, which is a great way for drivers to familiarize themselves with different regions. This year, they wanted to meet somewhere in the Southeast region. Aiken, with its vibrant driving community, was a natural choice. People from the organization came for a site visit in February, and Peggy Dils, who is the president of the Aiken Driving Club, helped give them the Aiken tour.
"I showed them the sights and the possibilities and they were very impressed," says Peggy. "And then the City of Aiken couldn't have been August-September 2013 The Aiken Horse 11 better or nicer or more accommodating."

Elizabeth Harm who is tourism supervisor for the City of Aiken, and Lisa Hall, who is supervisor of the Department of Parks and Recreation, were eager to help make Aiken the destination of choice. In fact, they even helped the ADS get a grant from the city to help advertise the meeting in order to make it a highlight of the fall season for the driving community nationwide. Every year Aiken gives out a number of grants to help promote the city as a place to visit. These grants are funded by an accommodations tax, which is assessed on hotel stays throughout the city. The a-tax money is used to encourage more people to come to Aiken, where they will stay in hotels, patronize restaurants and enjoy Aiken's downtown boutiques. The grant that the ADS received enabled the organization to do more advertising, and they expect that this will pay off in terms of the number of people who come to meetings, as well as in enthusiasm generated in the driving world.

"Aiken has been amazingly helpful and welcoming," says Susie. "It's been better than any place I have ever held a convention in my seven year tenure with the ADS. With the extra advertising we have been able to do, we hope to encourage more people to come to the meetings, both people who members of the ADS and those who are not. The clinics and drives are open to members and non-members, and there are sessions that will be interesting for people who drive, and for people who don't drive but would like to know more about it."

For instance, there will be a featured session on teaching horses from other disciplines to pull a carriage. The clinic, which takes place over three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) will be presented by Jeff Morse from Massachusetts, a trainer, ADS board member and founding member of some of the largest Morgan horse organizations on the East Coast.

"This is an opportunity for people to learn that if a horse has had another job, you can use the skills and the knowledge that the horse already has and take him into the new sport of carriage driving," says Susie.
The clinic is scheduled to take place at the Aiken Training Track. There will be two demonstration horses, both of them Lipizzans from North Carolina, which have been introduced to driving, but are not yet finished carriage horses.

"We don't want to portray training a horse to drive as a quick thing," says Susie. "Driving is a dedication, and it takes a while to do it. The seminar is about identifying what skills the horse already has and discovering the places where he is going to need more education."

Other activities include a pleasure drive at the Silver Bluff Audubon Center on Friday morning, a carriage parade through the streets of Aiken on Saturday morning and a drive through the Hitchcock Woods on Sunday. In addition there will be an "ask the judge" live demonstration on Saturday afternoon conducted by Shelly Temple and Muffy Seaton, both nationally known competitors and judges. Attendees who sign up for these sessions will be able to drive in front of the judges and get feedback on how they are doing. Drivers and spectators will be invited to ask questions, so that everyone will come away with a deeper understanding of what the judge sees.

"We want people to know that the meetings and events are open to anyone who has an interest in driving," says Susie. "And we'd like to encourage people to attend. You don't have to come for the whole meeting if that doesn't fit into your schedule - there is an "a la carte" option.

"We'd also like to let people know that driving is available for you. If offers an opportunity for a change. Maybe a change in life, maybe a change in passion. One of the neat things about driving is that if you are a person who has always been used to big horses, hunter/jumpers, for example, and maybe you have come to a time in your life where you can't physically handle a big animal like that, if you choose driving, you can go down to a pony and drive and still enjoy the horses, the equestrian community and the friendships that horses bring. Driving gives you the opportunity to do horses on a smaller scale."

After the ADS chose Aiken for its meetings, they enlisted Peggy Dils to be the local coordinator, and the whole Aiken Driving Club to offer support services. Elizabeth Harm and Lisa Hall continued to help with logistics, and many local volunteers are giving their time as well. Peggy, who helped design the program of clinics, says that she is excited that they driving world is coming in Aiken.

"I really wanted them to discover Aiken and have a good time here," she says, "If people are interested in driving, whether they are new drivers or more experienced drivers, we're going to be offering them a chance to walk away with something they didn't know before they came. I think it's going to be a great weekend."
For more information, visit or call 608-237-7382. Registration closes on September 6, but some sessions may be available on a walk-in basis. If you are not a driver, don't miss the carriage parade on Saturday, September 28. It is scheduled to run from 9:00 a.m. until noon.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.